• Spain's news in English

'Spanish bureaucracy moves very slowly'

George Mills · 4 Mar 2013, 18:55

Published: 04 Mar 2013 18:55 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

In this interview, he talks about setting up a business in Spain and how to make whole process a lot less painful.  

So what happened to your travel plans?

When my wife and I decided to leave England, I really fancied going to China or Russia but my wife didn't agree. So Spain was a toe in the water for us, a compromise. Years later, and we’re still here!

And why did you settle on Spain?

Well I did my CELTA (an English teaching certificate run by Cambridge University) in Seville and liked it. In fact, when we decided to come to Spain, I wanted to live there, but I didn’t want to put any pressure on my wife. So we did our homework before we came out. We took long weekends in various cities and then finally settled on Seville.

I actually found a teaching job at a school in Seville before we came out, and the interview process for that allowed us to confirm that Seville was indeed the right place.

So did you continue liking it after you moved there?

Looking back I thought my Spanish was much better than it was. I had basic tourism Spanish. I did a Spanish A-level (high school leaving certificate) in the UK but when we came to Seville we needed a mattress and a frying pan and we had no idea!

But yes, I liked the city, and still do.

Why the move from teaching to running a school?

Opening a school had been a plan of mine from the start. Before I started teaching I was an administrator at a university for years and I thought that with teaching experience as well I could run a school.

And why did you choose the location you did?

We saw a gap in the market, and knew there was a large pool of potential students in the area, which is just a few kilometres from Seville.

Was the set-up process difficult?

Opening the school actually wasn't complicated but there was a lot of bureaucracy. I didn't realize that I'd have to go to so many departments and do the same things over and over again.

You assume the wheels of government turn the same way in all European countries but they definitely don’t.

On the other hand, the local government business advisors helped me as well. They walked me through the steps, giving me the right forms and telling me where to go. It all just took me a lot longer than I expected!

Then there was the Spanish language aspect. You go from ‘tourism Spanish’ to ‘I can live here Spanish’ to ‘setting-up-a-business' Spanish, and each one is a big jump.   

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Right now it’s finding the balance between investing in administration and teachers. To date, when the business has grown, we've put the money into teachers, but the administration work has increased a lot as well and I'm the only person dealing with it. That means I've had to drop teaching, which is a shame.

And how are things going with the crisis?

You notice that more people are dropping out. People pay their school fees monthly, and there is definitely more of a turnover. For parents with two or three children studying English it’s tough. But we are doing OK. In our first year, we had around 80 students in one centre and now we have around 350 pupils at two different sites.

What advice would you give to someone eyeing a move to Spain at the moment?

Story continues below…

I would tell people to do your homework. A lot of people from the UK have this idea that Spain is cheap because they come here on cheap packages holidays. And while it's true that some things are cheap, you're not necessarily going to be as well off as you think if you're earning euros.

I also certainly wouldn't recommend the move to everyone. If you're a language teacher, you're probably OK. As a native speaker with qualifications, you're in a good position.

But if you're looking at unskilled work, there are five million other people competing for the same jobs. 

And what would you say to someone thinking of setting up a business here?

Get the best advice you can! Get an asesor (business advisor), and look at all the avenues of help that are available.

Do you need to speak Spanish?

As a teacher, no. I'm more than happy to take on teachers who don't speak Spanish. It can even be an advantage in the classroom because if the students think you can't speak Spanish they will only try in English, and that's good for language learning.   

Click here for The Local's jobs listings. 

George Mills (george.mills@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Recipe: How to make classic Spanish ham croquettes
Photo: thespanishcuisine.com

Learn how to make this all-time Spanish favourite at home.

Halloween weekend: Sunny skies and nightmare traffic
Authorities expect 5.5 million cars to take to the road over the 'puente'. Archive photo: AFP

Spain is set for great weather over the long weekend. But be prepared for nightmare traffic.

Southern Spain will become a desert with global warming
Photo: Steven Stralton / Flickr

Southern Spain will become a desert if global warning continues, scientists have warned.

Eight Spanish films to truely terrify you this Halloween
Photo: Corie Howell / Flickr Creative Commons.

Looking for something to give you goosebumps this Halloween? The Local looks at eight Spanish films that are sure to have you cowering beneath the covers.

Spain's Socialists refuse to go easy on Rajoy once in power
Photo: AFP

Spain's Socialists may have reluctantly decided to let Mariano Rajoy govern again but they will not go easy on the acting conservative premier once he re-takes power, they warned on Thursday.

Spain's Podemos sees golden opportunity in Socialist woes
Pablo Iglesias is ready to step up in opposition. Photo: AFP

As Spain's conservatives prepare to re-take power after 10 months of political limbo, anti-austerity party Podemos has set its sights on replacing the divided Socialists as the main opposition force.

Wildlife ranger accused over decapitated bison in Valencia
The headless corpse of Sauro was found last month. Photo: Carlos Alamo / Reserva de Valdeserrillas

The case of the beheaded bison at a wildlife reserve in Valencia just got a whole lot weirder.

Spain jobless drops below 20% for first time in six years
The unemployed queuing up outside a Madrid job centre. Photo: AFP

Spain's unemployment fell below 20 percent for the first time in six years, official figures showed on Thursday.

'Saints not ghouls' insists Spanish church for Halloween
Suggested outfits from the Bishopric of Cadiz and Ceuta. Photo: Shower of Roses

Spanish bishops are urging good Christian children to forgo zombie, ghost and devil outfits and instead dress up as "saints, virgins and apostles".

Tough road ahead, Spain PM warns before return to power
Rajoy will try and form a government this week. Photo: AFP

Spain's acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned on Wednesday of a tough road ahead as he prepares to take power again at the head of a minority government with little support.

Analysis & Opinion
Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Spanish 'La Mafia' restaurants banned after Italian complaint
Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Hunt launched for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Napflix: Spaniards launch very boring TV channel for siestas
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
jobs available